Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen go into the final match day of the 2016/17 Bundesliga season with much at stake. Both clubs will go into the fixture with European ambitions, on different levels, as well as individual accolades also being at stake.
European Qualification Battle
While the Bundesliga title has been decided since April, with Bayern Munich winning the league for the fifth straight year, the last match day of the season will still have huge implications for the shape of European football in the 2017/18 season.
Borussia Dortmund have already qualified for next season’s Champions League, having assured a finish no worse than fourth. However, only the top three teams in the Bundesliga get direct qualification into the Champions League group stage. Fourth place in the Bundesliga means having to play in a two-legged playoff to qualify into the group stage.
Dortmund are tied on points with fourth place TSG Hoffenheim at 61, holding on to a small lead and third place due to goal differential. BVB have their weekend opponents to thank for hanging on to third place, as last week Werder Bremen lost to Hoffenheim 5-3 after initially trailing 5-0, giving the Black and Yellows the small advantage in goal differential.
There are a few ways for Dortmund to finish third in the Bundesliga:
- If both Dortmund and Hofenheim win on Saturday, the better goal differential will get third place. Currently, Dortmund’s goal differential is 31, while Hoffenheim’s is 27.
- If Dortmund win and Hoffenheim lose or draw, Dortmund will finish third.
- If both teams draw, Dortmund will finish third.
For their part, Werder Bremen will be looking to finish the season on a high note and qualify for next year’s Europa league. Bremen currently sit at 8th place with 45 points, with Hertha Berlin, Freiburg, and Cologne ahead of them. With a win on Saturday and a bit of luck from other results across Germany, Bremen could well find themselves back in European football next season.
Dortmund’s Midfield Conundrum
Star defensive midfielder Julian Weigl will miss the remainder of the season for Borussia Dortmund after suffering an ankle injury during last weekend’s game against Augsburg. Manager Thomas Tuchel will have to work around his midfield in order to account for the loss of such a key player.
In Weigl’s absence Tuchel has a few players in his squad that could help fill the void. Gonzalo Castro, Sven Bender, and Mikel Merino are all capable of playing the defensive midfield role. If fit, Nuri Sahin is another option for the holding midfield role. In all likelihood, the duty will be assigned to Gonzalo Castro, as Tuchel has opted to use Sven Bender as a center back and Mikel Merino has not had much playing time throughout the season. Look for Castro to play the defensive midfield role, with Raphael Guerrerio dropping back to provide assistance.
Borussia Dortmund (4-1-4-1): Piszczeck, Sokratis, Ginter, Schmelzer, Castro, Guerreriro, Dembele, Kagawa, Reus, Aubameyang.
Weder Bremen (3-5-2): Moisander, Sane, Veljkovic, Garcia, Eggestein, Gebre Selassie, Junuzovic, Delaney, Bartels, Kruse.
Dortmund 3-1 Werder Bremen
Both teams have a lot to play for going into their final league game. Dortmund will want automatic qualification into the Champions League group stage, while Werder Bremen is looking to return to European football through the Europa League.
On an individual level, Dortmund’s star striker Aubameyang will be looking to get into the score sheet in order to beat former teammate Lewandoski for the most goals scored this season. The game will be a cagey affair, with Dortmund scoring a late goal to seal it.